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Jason Heyward gets benched on 22nd birthday

Atlanta Braves v Washington Nationals

WASHINGTON, DC - AUGUST 02: Jason Heyward #22 of the Atlanta Braves stretches before the start of the Braves game against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park on August 2, 2011 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)

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Even though the Braves are facing a right-hander in the Marlins’ Clay Hensley tonight, Jason Heyward is riding the pine in favor of the Braves’ newest sparkplug, Jose Constanza. It’s the second straight day on the bench for the 2010 All-Star, who is celebrating his 22nd birthday. He’s sitting even though he homered and walked in three plate appearances Sunday.

Constanza, a modern day Bo Hart, is 16-for-38 since debuting on July 29. He even homered Sunday against the Mets. He has two homers in 371 at-bats between Triple-A and the majors this season, matching his high total in seven seasons as a pro.

As much of a disappointment as Heyward has been this season, he’s still hitting .244/.339/.440 against right-handed pitchers. It’s hard to blame the Braves for wanting to keep Constanza in there when he’s on fire, but there’s a good argument for using Heyward over Martin Prado against a righty. Prado is hitting .265/.300/.412 versus right-handers, and the Braves are better defensively with Constanza in left and Heyward in right than with Prado in left and Constanza in right.

But Prado, even though he’s struggled moreso than Heyward since coming off the DL, is the established player and Heyward is still young and proving himself, at least in manager Fredi Gonzalez’s eyes. We’ll see how it plays out for the Braves, who have won four out of five games after a shaky start to the second half.